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Glazunov: King of the Jews
01 May 2000
Originally recorded in 1998
Russian State Symphony Orchestra
Russian State Symphonic Cappella
Grand Hall of Moscow Conservatory
Orchestral & Concertos
Total Time - 68:55
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Introduction and Dance of Salome for 'Salomé', Op. 90
Dance of Salome
The King of the Jews (Tsar Iudeyskiy), Op. 95*
Introduction and chorus - Entrance of Christ into Jerusalem -
Song of Jesus' Disciples -
Entr'acte to Act II - The Palace of Pontius Pilate -
The Levites' Trumpets -
Conclusion to Act II -
Entr'acte to Act III, Scene 1 -
Entr'acte to Act III, Scene 2 -
Syrian Dance -
Entr'acte to Avt IV -
Shepherd's Musette -
Song of the Singers of Psalms
Valeri Polyansky conducts the Russian State Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Cappella in this fourth disc of their on-going Glazunov series.
There is little competition for the music featured on this disc. There is only one other recording of the Introduction and Dance of Salome currently available, and only two other recordings of The King of the Jews.
Valeri Polyansky has made an excellent series of recordings with the Russian State Symphony Orchestra, encompassing well-known and less familiar repertoire. As well as Glazunov, his Schnittke series, Grechaninov and Shostakovich symphonies and a disc of rare Mussorgsky works are particularly admired.
In 1912 the Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich Romanov brought the last of the great Russian composers , Alexander Glazunov, into his orbit to furnish the not-so-incidental music for a mystery play he had just written, ‘The King of the Jews’. Up to this point, Glazunov had only written one work on a religious theme: the incidental music to Wilde’s ‘Salomé’.
Glazunov was instructed that to prevent interference from the censor, he should arrange that the person of Christ would never appear on the stage. He would be invisible, seen only by the actors. Glazunov thought up a theme for Christ, first introduced in a gently lilting 6/8 on cor anglais. Even if the theme does not, as the composer asserts, germinate ‘the entirety of the music’, it certainly lends itself to abundant symphonic variation and the whole work proves to be more of a symphonic entity than many other sets of incidental music.
The premiere on 9 January 1914 was given in the Hermitage Theatre; the distinguished producer Nikolai Arbatov took charge of a mixture of amateur actors (including the Grand Duke) and professionals; and Mikhail Fokine arranged the choreography.
Glazunov’s incidental music to Wilde’s ‘Salomé’ was written in 1908, three years after Richard Strauss’s opera on the same subject, and at a time when Glazunov had become director of the St Petersburg Conservatory and was at the height of his powers and greatest international acclaim.
‘… with their refined brass, richly expressive solo winds, and resplendent strings, Polyansky’s Russian State Symphony Orchestra is by far the best orchestra to essay this music so far.’
American Record Guide on Chan 9486 (Grechaninov)
The outstanding performances on this disc make a convincing case for these obscure yet powerful works. The mighty male voices of the Russian State Symphonic Cappella are memorably impressive and finely balanced by the lucent lyricism of the womens. But its the shattering tension of the orchestral playing that really makes the disc special, the seemingly impregnable wall of brass offset by string playing of infinite tautness to thrilling dramatic effect.
BBC Music Magazine
‘Polyansky conducts a colourful, warmly expressive performance, helped by rich, full recording.’
The Guardian on CHAN 9709 (Symphony No. 2/Coronation Cantata)
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